Connections Bring History Home


Today in History, July 17: 1763 – John Jacob Astor is born in Germany in modest circumstances.  He would immigrate to America…selling flutes.  Convinced to sell the musical instruments in New York and invest in the fur trade, he became America’s first Millionaire with his American Fur Company.  On April 12, 1912 his grandson and namesake, the world’s richest man, John Jacob Astor IV would die in the Titanic Disaster.

July 17: 1918 – Crossing paths in history.  The RMS Carpathia is sunk by U-Boat U-55 during WWI.  All but 5 of her crew managed to escape to lifeboats. They were in turn saved by the Sloop HMS Snowdrop, which arrived and drove off the German sub before it could machine gun the crew in their boats.

As previously stated, on April 12, 1912, RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank within 4 hours. The nearest ship to receive her distress signal was the RMS Carpathia, which sped at full speed for two hours to the disaster scene. Upon her arrival, she rescued 705 survivors from the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. The Carpathia’s crew became heroes, being awarded medals. Her Captain, Arthur Henry Rostron, was knighted and was a guest of President William Taft in the White House. During WWI the Carpathia served as a troop ship, transporting thousands of American soldiers across the Atlantic to the war in Europe.

Among them was Frank Buckles, who would become the last surviving American Soldier from WWI before his death in 2011. He was a prisoner of war in the Philippines during WWII (as a civilian) and a strong advocate for a WWI Memorial, which…led him to be a guest of President George W. Bush in the White House. 

Everything is connected in history…you just have to find it.

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